Not a Chance!

You might recall an earlier post where I wrote about going on vacation and the challenges I had with that. Well, I’m happy to report I am writing this while on previously mentioned vacation. It’s been glorious! I am not trying to kick sand in the faces of my North Atlantic Seaboard brethren, but this beats the heck outta where you’re at right now. Continue reading Not a Chance!

Pieces of the Puzzle

I have been taking a trip down memory lane on twitter and posting blog entries from a year ago. I ran across one from last March where we asked if anyone wanted to join us and the silence was defining. But that didn’t stop Me2 and myself.

We have grown our community one blog post and one amazing photographer at a time.

Continue reading Pieces of the Puzzle

Captain Kaos

When I began writing this, I went about it all-wrong…

I treated it as an assignment. “Why do I photograph toys…?” Hmmmmm.

I went off on an “artsy-fartsy” tangent and got all philosophical. “I PHOTOGRAPH TOYS BECAUSE THEY ARE THERE!” Or something like, “Well, often times my figures express how I am feeling much more succinctly than I ever could….” Maybe even, “The question that lies at the very core of our existence as human beings may perhaps, be answered by a photo of that ONE action figure, HARUMPH!”

Of course, that’s all absolute nonsense and the answer to the question – WHY – is much more simple than any of that.

When I was growing up, my Father was an Officer in the United States Army. When asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, my answer was always “I wanna be an Army man like my Dad!” I can directly attribute my enormous collection of G.I. Joe figures (yes, the originals with fuzzy beards and Kung-fu grip) and plastic green army men to being raised as an Army Brat. Those figures suffered through unimaginable battles. I’d melt pieces of them out, create a small hole and place shredded cotton, colored red with a marker, in the holes to simulate blood…than take them outside, set them up somewhere and take pictures.

After I’d burn up a roll of Kodak 110, my Mom would take that film to get them developed somewhere…I vaguely remember a shack in the middle of a parking lot off of Highway 440 in Killeen, Texas. Than, what seemed like many years later, we’d get the developed roll back and I’d tear open the envelope to stare at my glorious war scenes I’d recreated! Of course, the photos were terrible, out of focus and blurry. But I had taken an idea I had in my imagination and “made it” real.

FANTASTIC!

Star Wars captured my imagination in 1977 like it did every other kid of my age at the time. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. Stormtroopers, Darth Vader…. light sabers, blasters, A DEATH STAR! Let me say that again and this time imagine you’re nine years old, sitting in a movie theater, speechless, and a figure clad in black armor, wearing a helmet that looks like it’s from one of your nightmares, mentions THE DEATH STAR! WHAT ? ! ? My toy photography took off in a new direction…

I spent many, many hours setting up R2-D2 and C-3PO in the playground trying to recreate scenes from Star Wars. Hard to do with the limited number of figures available at the time, but damn if I didn’t try my hardest.

Fast-forward thirty years and toy photography has become my “creative outlet”. I’ve always done it, before there was a name for it and long before social media existed. A few years ago, I was messing around with a clone trooper from the Star Wars saga and on a whim I posted it to Instagram. It wasn’t anything fancy. The trooper was sitting at the end of a beach chair and I was fortunate enough to catch some lens flare. Surprisingly, the picture was a hit with (GASP) other toy photographers!

There were OTHER people that were doing the SAME THING!

My weird little hobby had found a home. I’ve met some incredibly talented people in “IG Land”. I’ve been inspired, amazed and sometimes, literally speechless when scrolling through my feed. So many talented people across the globe, all taking pictures of toys, with the dedication, enthusiasm and achieving the results you’d expect to see in an art museum.

So why do I photograph toys?

I guess because I always have. It’s a part of who I am. I’m always looking for a way to improve my shots and discovering new techniques to employ. I enjoy the entire process. Toy photography is a small and fairly specialized genre… I certainly hope I’m part of it when it’s noticed AND respected for what it is, by a much larger audience.

~ Matt Rohde

The beginning.
The beginning.

We are very happy to announce that starting next week Matt will be posting  a weekly feature here at StuckinPlastic and I couldn’t be happier! I have long admired his photography and the (often) poignant stories that accompany them. Matt has been a big inspiration to me and my own toy photography and after reading his “Why?” statement I understand that much better. I hope you will give him a very warm welcome. ~ xxSJC

This post is part of our “Why? series”, where we interview toy photographers around the world and ask them the simple question: Why?

Here are a few of the other iconic interviews: East Mountain, Jaiken, Balakov, …

Captain Kaos

In less than two months I will have the pleasure of heading to Las Vegas, NV, for a toy photographers meet up. When I started planning this event with my friends Dinoczars, Bricksailboat and +LEGO Wiiman I had no idea anyone would be interested in joining us.

So imagine my elation when one of my favorite toy photographers, Matt Rhode (otherwise known as  x_capatain_kaos_x) was one of the first to commit! Matt is one of the more interesting and best known characters active in the Instagram toy community. 
I’ve been following the good Captain for much of my nearly three years on Instagram. I’ve watched both his photography and storytelling skills grow. His mastery of the “flying shot” is nothing less than stunning. I think there are very few people who can make an inert bit of plastic look as alive as this guy can. 
His Stormtroppers are not the hapless stooges of Vader, but fun loving daredevils that live life to the fullest. Whether they are cliff diving or Para-Leafing they make the most of what they have (and I never doubt for a minute that they are actually doing all these things). His flying shots are a constant source of inspiration to me.

Successful Drop by Matt Rohde
Even though Matt has a wonderful cast of recurring characters, Stan the Stormtrooper, Frank from Donnie Darko and Gojira to name a few, my favorite is the Skeleton from Jason and the Argonauts. His quest to find Winter and slay him is priceless on every level: the staging, the story line, his never ending alcohol stupor all combine for pure poetry. I look forward to more crazy antics from this lovable character.

Why Me? by Matt Rohde

Of course it’s not all fun and games in Matt’s world, especially when the going gets rough. I can’t help but think his military background leads an authenticity to his battle scenes that few other photographers can match. I will admit his story lines can get too violent for my tastes (and the exuberance for the violence exhibited in the comments by his admirers I find a little disturbing), but I realize that this only reflects the world we live in. As I find myself retreating into my own form of magical realism it is good to know that there are other photographers willing to keep it far more real.
It will be interesting to see how we all get along when we meet up in Las Vegas. It is risky to take the anonymity out of our friendships, but I am sure that our mutual respect will carry us through. 
If you’re interested in seeing how this all plays out in person, feel free to join us in Las Vegas in January, we can always find room for one more. In the mean time head over the @x_captain _kaos_x on Instagram and check out his toy photography and all those beautiful stories in detail. 
~ xxsjc

Have you ever meet someone you have followed on Instagram and how did it go?
Who do you follow on Instagram that you would love to meet in person?